Castanet & Bongo Programming Frontrunner

by Neil Bartlett, Steve Simkin
This book review is published in Developers Review
Castanet & Bongo Programming Frontrunner
Neil Bartlett, Steve Simkin
The Coriolis Group Books
384 pages (no disk)
US$ 29.99
Just recently Marimba has made an agreement with Netscape Corporation: Castanet's tuner will be included in Netscape Netcaster. This opens a broad market for channel developers. This book helps you on your way to become a channel developer.

The book is divided into five parts: Technology review, The user side, Developing content, Bongo and Resources. The first part gives a quick overview of push technologies, the Marimba products and their competition.

The second part of the book is especially useful for the users that want to set up their tuner and accept channels. Steps are shown on how to install the tuner and subscribe to the different channels. Finally an overview is given of some nice and fun channels to subscribe to.

By the third part it is getting interesting. This part describes how to develop content for the channels. That means we learn how content developers can use channels to publish their programs and information. The first chapter clearly explains how to install the transmitter. The transmitter makes it possible for content developers to publish their contents to the Internet. The next chapters are guiding you on how to publish the different channel types (HTML, applet, application, presentation). Examples are given on how to create channels with Java (Bongo is covered in its own part). Finally the security model used by the transmitter is explained and a example is shown on how to use it. These chapters give a good indication on how to write channels and let's you start writing your own channels.

Part IV covers Bongo. Bongo is used to create the user interface to your channels. The UI components are called widgets and Bongo lets you extend their behaviour through scripting. You can of course use the java.awt classes (you can even drop applets in the Bong UI), but Bongo provides you with widgets that are far more sophisticated. The first chapter jumps right in and lets you create a Bongo presentation. To make full use of Bongo (for example great complexity that can't be handled by scripting; writing custom widgets) it needs some help from Java. In clear examples is shown how the connection to Java can be made. Chapter 14 and 15 shows and describes a complete sample channel. All aspects of the channel are clearly explained. On how to build the application and deploy it as a channel.

The fifth part of the book consists of a short Java tutorial, the Bongo widget hierarchy and different useful resources.

The only thing missing to this book perhaps is a CD-ROM containing the developer releases of the transmitter and Bongo (it will at least save me the download time). But overall this a very good book that gets you right on the road to writing and publishing channels for Marimba's Castanet tuner.

(Hubert Klein Ikkink)

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